We’re less than three months away from Looking for Alaska's premiere on Hulu, and the adaptation will reportedly introduce some changes, according to showrunner and coexecutive producer, Josh Schwartz.
Schwartz, known for his work on Gossip Girl and The O.C,, recently opened up about the John Green adaptation, admitting that though the eight-episode series will follow the book’s structure and story “faithfully,” it will also tackle the book’s “male gaze” problem.
“We’re incredibly faithful to the material but we’ve also taken great efforts to go further and deeper. For fans of the book, they will feel we’ve really honored the material. The book is really about the limited male gaze and we wanted to make sure that Alaska exists in her own right,” Schwartz told Deadline. “The audience will have understanding of her character and she won’t exist only as a mystery, hopefully that will go some way to remedy that.”
Kristine Froseth, who plays Alaska in the series, seems to agree with Schwartz’s statement. “We made sure she felt human, a regular teenager, and added in a lot of private moments that help show that,” she told Deadline about the revamped character.
Many fell in love with the book when it came out in 2005, but there’s no denying that Alaska is almost entirely seen through Pudge’s male gaze. In fact, Green has been called out multiple times for his use of what’s described in literature and film as the “manic pixie dream girl” trope — a pretty widespread phenomenon in YA literature (particularly if written by a male author).
According to the Los Angeles Review of Books, the MPDG trope presents an attractive, “eccentric” girl whose only purpose is to serve as a “catalyst for the male protagonist’s growth.” During a FIFA stream from 2013, Green himself addressed the MPDG trope in his oeuvre — particularly in his debut, Looking for Alaska and 2008’s Paper Towns — admitting that while it is an “old archetype in fiction,” people “are much more complex” than the MPDG archetype permits.
“I thought that readers would be conscious from fairly early on that there was a lot of distance between the way Pudge was imagining [Alaska] and the way she kind of saw herself and I tried to reveal that in the narrative," Green says in the stream. "Is that a manic pixie dream girl? Well, she’s certainly being viewed as a manic pixie dream girl by the person who has access to the narrative. But at the same time, I was hoping that there would be little ways in which it’d be clear that she was more complicated and troubled than she was letting on. So I didn’t want her to come across merely as manic pixie dream girl."
Schwartz has been working closely with Green on the adaptation, which has been 14 years in the making, and believes “the limited series can offer audiences a more immersive experience, where you spend eight hours with these characters rather than two hours.”
Hopefully, the series format will contribute to the development of Alaska’s character in her own right, rather than from Pudge’s perspective. The series premieres on October 18.
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